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The economic situation and the mores and customs of 21st-century society have triggered market trends that were impossible to predict until recently – take bicycles, for instance. Bicycles outsold cars in Europe in 2012, confirming 2011’s seemingly surprising result for these clearly modern, high-tech, even electrical machines. In Germany, 4 million bicycles were sold, as against 3 million cars; in Great Britain, 3.6 million vs 2 million; in Italy, too, 1.6 million bikes vs 1.4 million cars. And the Greek statistics make the picture abundantly clear: 320,000 bicycles were sold, against 58,000 cars.
These figures and those on bicycle thefts (320,000 per year in Italy alone) prompted Concept Reply to join the initiative to develop a "Black Box" for two-wheelers, known as "TBike" (Telematic Box for Bike). This compact piece of high technology weighing just a few grams can communicate a bicycle’s position via SMS after being moved, using the coordinates detected using its GPS. Concept Reply has contributed to developing both the hardware and the software. TBike is a machine-to-machine application, in that the device can transmit information over a communications network. Its powerful 400 mH rechargeable lithium battery ensures long life and is highly suitable for use on bicycles, although TBike is also well suited to electric bikes and motorcycles, given its small size. The system has GSM and GPRS connectivity, GPS and GLONASS plus an accelerometer to measure position and distance travelled. TBike also possesses a System-on-Chip operating system made by Silicon Labs, a leader in operating-systems solutions with ultra-low energy and resource consumption. TBike uses a Freescale (ARM Cortex M3) microprocessor.
TBike can be installed with a personalised application performing one or more functions, such as:
TBike can, of course, be of interest both for the insurance market and for bicycle manufacturers; it can be fitted either during assembly or at the aftermarket stage. Clearly, TBike can support “social” functionality if used with applications for smartphones or internet services dedicated to the two-wheel world. And it can also be useful for enabling customer-care services or one-to-one marketing and user profiling.